I think this is interesting.
The Hundreds have been around awhile. Their Adam Bomb logo is kind of played out, yet because they always release new designs in limited quantities (often 50-150 pieces), there is inevitably a high demand, futher validating the brand. Don't these people have jobs?
- stains on his Dickies, brown belt, wallet chain, FM radio clipped to the belt, charms on his key rings attached to belt loop.
- tiny heart graphic on white shirt, small gold hoop earrings, boyishly short haircut, 20-year-old daughter in tow, whose jeans are too tight, black underwear beneath white t-shirt, ballet posture, speaking to a boy, chump, with an NES pixilated graphic on his shirt that says, "I Know Kung Fu".
- cell phone to ear, black sunglasses, gold bracelet, oversize watch, cell phone holder attached to black jeans pocket, mustache, shaved and waxed dome piece.
- the sadness of the fruit and pastries in the bake case.
- purple t-shirt, pink sunglasses on head, clamdigger pants, 2 chins, red hair back in a clip.
- brown shoes, blue pants, blue shirt, black hair, an abomination of fashion.
- gold chain mail necklace, brown boots, brown tights, blue dress, 23, curly red hair, chewing on a muffin and talking to a boy wearing slip-ons, white t-shirt, 4-day red beard, skinny jeans, legs crossed at the crotch under the table, unknown tattoo on right bicep, wiping the sleep out of his eye, her face is restrained, holding her paper coffee cup up like in a Pottery Barn mailer, he nods, white skinny socks, checks his texts under the table while speaking, she brushes the hair out of her eye, he points, emphasizing, she holds her thumb up, enumerating, he puts his hands on top of his head, this is absolute boredom, the sepulchral relations of our age.
_________ is one of the most depraved of the managers at ______. He is a sci-fi and civil war history fan (Dark Tower Lane!), he puts gel in his hair, he wears the same 5 rumpled button-downs with khakis every week, and he carried virtually no weight at the store. I feel sorry for him, always complaining about his ex-wife, no prospects on the horizon. He generally has the stink of death about him.
But more than that, his mind has been twisted by overwork, especially too many years at _____, I think five or 8 or something like that. He told me that he once worked three years straight without a day off (he has another part-time job at a legal office).
I guess the perverse thing is in his little violent morbid jokes (sometimes about killing), where you get the best entree into his mind. These little jokes are like the sex jokes of a food service worker, the ritonello or little song of the sheep herder sung to no one in particular, only if someone might chance to hear, smile, chuckle, and keep on going in a mind-numbing task; it delays or absconds the recognition of his depraved self-thought. But there is something else there, when he tells these jokes, a fatalism, a knowledge of his position. There is no fighting against the system, no hope of self-improvement, only the bleakly ironic recognition of fatalism, a life spent shitting on a public toilet and drinking from corporate plastic cups, knowing that this must be better than waiting tables (his last job).
He seems to hate the job, but on the other hand, he takes on this professional, enthused, demeanor with the patrons. With co-workers, he's generally dour and silent. It is as if he is only being himself when he is allowed to be fake, as sanctioned by our corporate institution. But there is more to uncover in that gelled hair and the large mountain dew sodas he drinks. There is something. A man on the verge of something? A mental breakdown? A burnout? What is it like for a mechanical body like _________'s to break down? Will he evaporate? Will he crumble? Will he grow twisted and go postal? Will he simply age at ____? He is a perfect worker is some ways, crystalline, seemingly affectless from moment to moment, able to turn on charm and know-how at will.
P.S. Perhaps I am too harsh. I think to work at ____ for 7 years, you have to be an inherently humble person. A martyr. I was listening to him sing to himself while straightening the shelves last night. He's a martyr, a Christ-figure in some ways, singing his little ritornello.
but that does not begin to get at what is in the rugs, the carpet, the parapet of books. i have seen inventory crews come in in the dead of night and count every book in the store, like an army with their own lieutenants, all for the corporate bean-counters. i have seen necking in the aisles, and older men stealing time with the paperbacked penthouse letters books. i have seen munchkin-sized staff working in the kids department, picking up patrons' trash, smiling and genuinely exicted to interact with a kid and his/her family. from kids you can see the outside -- the greatest section of windows and natural light coming into the store. there are toys there, and stuffed plush animals, yes we sell more than books and media. i have never caught a thief.
the dirt and grime go down the wash sinks at the end of the night, the stragglers file out with their laptops, the sound system goes mute. we clean the shelves, put the store back in order, file the magazines, and dust the sections. a last-minute piss and off to home and back again tomorrow.
but that is putting it in a bad light. there is the halluncination of shelving books for three hours, straight, hustling to get you carts done. it is a hallucination that starts 20 minutes into your shift and ends the next day. there are no clocks in ____, it is like a vegas casino. there is no time, yet you will find yourself counting down the minutes like a schoolchild. there is nothing good or holy there. staff begin and exit their often-short careers like transients, only handing over copies of "the autobiography of malcolm x" in between. "always put the book in the customer's hand." this is one of our directives from corporate. if you lead a patron to the desired book, then literally hand it over, this act that seems to imply warmth, lovingkindness, and impeccable service actually improves our sales numbers.
Graduate Seminar: Materialityby _______________________
We are surrounded by things: rocks, cars, skyscrapers, fabric, weapons, computers, paintings, trees, shoes, fences. We are ourselves made of things: clothing, cells, DNA, atoms, organs, food, eyeglasses. From the sublime (Michelangelo’s David) to the ridiculous (dentures); from the technologically cutting edge (the iphone) to the folkloric (quilts); from repositories of identity and memory, both private (souvenirs) and collective (monuments), to entities that make new worlds for better (wind turbines) or worse (barbed wire); from the desirable (diamonds) to the barely noticed substructure of everyday life (subflooring), the world in which we live is resolutely material.
Yet our relation to the material world is vexed. Much philosophical and religious reflection has insisted on the primary importance of immaterial forces at the expense of things. Things have been despised as inferior to spirit or mind, even as some reduce mind entirely to biochemical reactions. While some insist that things are inert, with no power or agency in and of themselves, for others, some things have the capacity to determine human behavior or history. We mark the difference between backward and advanced societies by things produced and consumed; at the same time, we are increasingly anxious about the impact of so much stuff on the planet itself.
Materiality, however, is gaining increasing interdisciplinary attention: from science and technology studies to literary criticism, from anthropology (both cultural and archaeological) to art history, there is a new attraction to what some call “thing theory” which is blurring analytic divisions between subjects and objects, bodies and souls, science and the humanities.
This seminar will introduce both classic and novel approaches and topics, ranging from the fetish to the souvenir, from consumption to objectification, from the scientific to the art object, from the social life of things to the “thingly” nature of the social. Our ultimate concern is with questions like these: Do things have agency? If people make things, are they also made by them? How is a thing a gathering? Have we in fact not only never been modern but always been cyborgs?
Readings will include work by Arjun Appadurai, Martin Heidegger, Bruno Latour (lots!), Lorraine Daston, Bill Brown, Bill Pietz, Karl Marx, Michel Serres, Tim Ingold, and Lynn Meskell.